Following its 25th birthday this January, the R34 Skyline GT-R is now legal to import to the US. But should you actually buy one?

If you know anything about the US car scene, you’ll be aware of the much-maligned 25-year rule that restricts which vehicles you can legally import to the States. I won’t get into the backstory of it here because frankly it’s rather dry, but essentially, what it means for US car enthusiasts is that they cannot import vehicles into the country which are less than 25 years old. And, if you decided to break those rules, well, your lovingly-sourced pride and joy would be on its way to the government scrap heap.

Now though, the ban has lifted on one of the most revered hero cars of the past few decades – the R34-generation Nissan Skyline. Famous for its starring role in multiple Fast & Furious movies, not to mention a whole series of Gran Turismo video games, the R34 has more star power than it ever reasonably had a right to claim.

The R32 and R33 Skylines have been US-legal for a while now, but the door only began to creak open to the R34-generation cars in 2023. Last year, the lesser-spec ER34, ENR34, and HR34 Skyline models started to become of age, as the earliest examples of those left the factory in 1998. However, consult the history books, and you’ll find that the full-fat BNR34 GT-Rs only started rolling off production lines in January 1999. That means that prospective importers of Nissan’s modern-retro halo car have had to hold fire until the start of 2024. If you listen closely, you might be able to hear the sound of floodgates opening…

10KM R34 Skyline GT-R

When are R34 Skyline GT-Rs legal in the US?

There is one caveat to all of this though. The 25 year rule isn’t a blanket measure, and what I mean by that is, not every R34 Skyline GT-R suddenly becomes legal when the earliest examples do. Instead, the government applies the 25 year rule on an individual case by case basis. So, while R34s built in January or February 1999 are now perfectly attainable, an R34 built in March 1999 is not. Well, that’s the case at the time of writing, but I don’t think I need to explain the concept of time to you.

So, what does that mean? Well, according to the wonderful resource, GT-R, 1286 BNR34 GT-Rs were registered in January 1999, followed by a further thousand or so in February. Therefore, so far just over 2200 R34 GT-Rs are now US-legal. At least in theory. I mean, who’s to say how many of those cars are up for sale, or even still in existence.

If you’re after a specific type of R34 GT-R, you’ll need to take into account when those were produced as well. For example, the V-Spec II came out in October 2000, so if you want one of those, you’ll have to wait until winter next year. In fact, R34 production as a whole ran until 2002, so potentially you could have to wait until 2027 for the exact car you want.

Midnight purple Skyline GT-R

Image: Bring a Trailer

Should I import an R34 GT-R?

It might seem crazy to ask this question when so many people have been hankering after this specific car for this long, but even though you might now have the ability to import an R34 GT-R to the United States, you should still consider whether you should.

Let’s be honest, in this scenario, it’s a seller’s market. R34s were already overpriced internationally, so you can only imagine how much their prices will inflate now that the US market is at the table. Are you really willing or able to pay $150,000 (and upwards!) for a nineties Nissan coupe?

If the answer to that is ‘no’, my advice would be this: wait a little while for the hype to die down, then buy an ER34 instead. Sure, it’s not the ‘real thing’ in the eyes of GT-R fanboys, but the Skyline GT-T is a good car in it’s own right. You can get them with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and the RB25 engine under the hood has some solid potential. Most importantly though, you’ll probably be able to get one for a third, or maybe even a quarter of the price of a GT-R…

Anyway, if you’re thinking about making use of this new-found stateside freedom, feel free to check out our compilation of best Skyline feature cars to get those creative juices flowing!